Tuesday, May 31, 2022

review found in a garage

When The Silmarillion was published, the editor of my local science-fiction club's newsletter, knowing of my interest in Tolkien, asked me to write a brief (250-word) review.
This is one of my first-ever published reviews, and the first one of a book by Tolkien. There are many defects here, but being fortunately under no obligation either to critique the review or to write it again, I will pass over these in silence. (Allusion intentional.)


Professor Tolkien's long-awaited masterpiece is out at last. It is flooding bookstores (except for those cordially ignored by the publisher) and generally making itself heard of.

Tolkien's prose, while usually acknowledged to be beautiful, has never been considered particularly assimilable. And The Silmarillion is by far the densest of Tolkien's works. Consequently, some reviewers have dismissed the style, out-of-hand, as "biblical." So it may be, but not nearly so much as Dunsany. But biblical the work is in a more important sense. It is account (which may be found, in predigested form, in appendix A of The Lord of the Rings) of the creation of the world (which in substance if not style reminds me strongly of Terry Carr's "The Dance of the Changer and the Three") and the epic battles of the Elves and the Edain against the Great Enemy, Morgoth, in the First Age of Middle-earth. The mythology is not entirely in conflict with that of Judeo-Christian tradition, and has many beauties of its own.

The Silmarillion is not a novel. It is a collection of epic mythological tales. Close and detailed descriptions of events are very few. This is not a homely tale of Hobbits, but a high and distant account of noble figures of yore: the Valar and the Elves. Readers are well advised to keep this in mind, for there is much pleasure and appreciation to be gained from the power and splendor of this work.

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